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Communities of Practice

  • Date Submitted: 05/04/2010 03:33 AM
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The concept of “Community of Practice ’’ was propagated by two researchers Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Basically communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact with each other regularly. Communities of practice are formed by people who are involved in collective learning in a shared domain of human effort or endeavor. They are   groups of people coming together to share their expertise for some joint enterprise. This knowledge sharing and learning leads to change and innovation. These groups are found in business, organizations, government, education, professional associations, development projects etc. A few examples of community of practice:   an association of teachers in college seeking to improve teaching techniques, a group of software developers engaged in exploring new ways of fighting online virus, a group of engineers tackling a similar problem or a network of scientists exploring alternative sources of energy. Some communities of practice meet regularly face to face or they may be interacting over email networks. Some are within an organization while others have members from different organizations.

There are three characteristics of Community of Practice:

1) The domain: Community of practice is more than a club or association of friends or a network of connections between people. Its’ identity is defined by shared domain of interest. There is a certain commitment by the members to the domain and therefore a shared competence which distinguishes its’ members from others. Members of the community value their collective competence and learn from each other even though people outside the group may not value or recognize their expertise.

2) The community: The members of the domain engage in discussions, joint activities, share information and experiences and help each other thereby enhancing their learning. Their knowledge is enhanced by building...

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